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Hot on the Web

Still more on MySpace

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on August 25, 2006
(Issue 2434, Restaurants and Eateries)

Just how far the MySpace phenomenon has extended into real life was made clear during a recent concert I attended. It was at Michael Tiernan's New Acoustic Generation show at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach in late July.

A few weeks earlier, while preparing to write an article for the North County Times on competitive turntablism (yes, it really exists, and yes, that makes me feel really old), I'd been looking for a local music photographer who might have had photos of turntablism events we could run with the story.

After thinking it over a bit, I e-mailed someone I'd "met" via MySpace when she added me as a friend after finding my profile linked off a local musician's MySpace page. Debbie is incredibly plugged into San Diego's acoustic music scene, and referred me to three different San Diego-area photographers who specialize in shooting live music events.

Unfortunately, none of them specialize in turntablism (the art of using a turntable to "scratch" like the early rappers), and so I'm still looking for photos.

But at the NAG show, I saw a guy with a camera up near the stage who looked mighty familiar – and, indeed, it was one of the photogs from MySpace! As soon as I approached him, his face lit up – my MySpace account has several pictures of me as well – and we shook hands and introduced ourselves, real-world style.

Throughout the evening, that pattern repeated itself – and not just with me. The photographer was sitting with another of my MySpace "friends," a local singer/songwriter. First time meeting her in person, of course – and then, as some of her other, real-world friends would come by to say hi, she'd introduce me to them by saying, "And you're both on my MySpace friends list." Voila – a way to follow up with these other local music fans and musicians.

It was a remarkable transformation of how we network. I'm sure it was old hat by now for MySpace veterans, but it was an eye-opener for me.

And I'm sure it would have horrified any teenager watching this, to see so many people in their 30s, 40s and even older exchanging their MySpace account names!

Completing the circle, I was mostly at the NAG to see the Steph Johnson Band, whose debut CD I had recently reviewed (and loved – do yourself a favor and go buy it now! She sings like Sade, and her band cooks like Steely Dan!). And, yes, I'd first come across the Steph Johnson Band while doing ZIP code searches of San Diego band on MySpace.

In fact, every band playing at the NAG that night I already knew from MySpace: Michael Tiernan and Barbara Nesbitt and Kyle Phelan and Dylan Donkin and Steph Johnson. The ones I'd not heard before, I kinda knew their music already from listening to the four songs they can have as MP3 downloads. Knew who was who by their MySpace photos.

But bands promoting themselves online is no longer unusual.

Everyone in the audience networking via a single Web site?

Now that's new.

Still ...

Despite MySpace's tremendous success and status as one of the top destinations on the Web, they've apparently still not decentralized their servers!

The morning after the above show, I wanted to touch base with MySpace friends I'd finally met in person as well as add MySpace friends I'd run into at the club.

It was down.


Rolling blackouts in Los Angeles due to the heat wave took MySpace down yet again.

It's not bad enough that half the time you try to do anything on MySpace in the afternoon you get a message saying "Server is too busy"? (And just try to listen to a band's music on MySpace in the afternoon during the school year – once the kids get out of school and get online, MySpace slows to a crawl.)

MySpace has captured all kinds of lucrative demographics – teens, tweens, young men 18-32, even middle-aged farts like me. There are ads all over the site, and I'm sure advertisers – including most of the movie studios and record labels – are paying top dollar to get their ads in front of all those eyeballs.

So spend some of that money on beefing up the infrastructure already. I realize corporate owner Rupert Murdoch has a reputation as a cheap SOB, but if the folks at MySpace don't beef up their capacity and become more reliable, someone else with more business sense is going to take the business model MySpace has proven and do it a whole lot better.